Several scientists now claim that 2013 is likely to go down in history as the year when the first “alien Earth” was found.
More precisely, they claim that it is only a matter of months until our planet becomes acquainted with its outer space twin, and that this will force humanity to take a step back and have a fresh look at where it stands in the universe.
For those unaware, “alien Earth” is basically a planet whose hallmarks are strikingly similar to those displayed by Earth, and whose proximity to a parent star makes it habitable. Space
quotes Abel Mendez, a scientist presently in charge of running the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, who made a case of how, “I'm very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered nest year.”
Backing up his statement, a planet hunter named Geoff Marcy, stated that, “The first planet with a measured size, orbit and incident stellar flux that is suitable for life is likely to be announced in 2013.”
These scientists base their predictions on the fact that over 800 exoplanets have been found over the course of the past few years.
As well as this, the Kepler Space Telescope, launched back in March 2009, has thus far pinned down an additional 2,300 candidates.
In other words, there are simply too many planets to go around for Earth's twin to not be amongst them.
As Mikko Tuomi from the University of Hertfordshire in England puts it, “Estimating carefully, there are 200 billion stars that host at least 50 billion planets, if not more.”
Therefore, “Assuming that 1:10,000 are similar to the Earth would give us 5,000,000 such planets. So I would say we are talking about at least thousands of such planets.”
For the time being, only nine exoplanets are considered to be potentially habitable, meaning that they have the best chance of supporting life outside our solar system.